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Group Works for Healthier, Connected Community

October 23, 2020

Part of the Forward Franklin team at a Memorial Day parade

Ideas. Committment. Action.

What happens when you shine a spotlight on one local community seeking solutions to improve residents’ health? Over the last two years in Franklin Borough, the result has been an action-packed effort called “Forward Franklin.”

“Health and a sense of belonging are connected, and they’re both important for a community to thrive,” says Laura Hawkins, project manager for Forward Franklin, who also serves as manager of community health for Atlantic Health System. These are the goals of recent efforts.

Funding from the national “BUILD Health Challenge” kick-started “Forward Franklin,” one of only 19 projects in the nation – and the only small town – to earn the grant.

“It began just two years ago, and the benefit of our work is just now beginning to snowball,” Hawkins says.

You can literally see how their hard work has played out in town:

  • A focus on the Franklin Pond recreation area, including safety equipment for swimming, fitness stations, and updates to the girls’ softball field and playground
  • Improved public spaces at Franklin Borough Library and the American Legion Hall, to encourage people to meet and get to know each other.
  • Updates at the Franklin Mineral Museum, plus a new “Franklin Finds Scarecrows” activity to bring local history to life
  • Improved emergency helicopter landing pad at Fireman’s Field
     

Projects in progress include an outdoor classroom, repairs to a future community center, a walking tour and app, and a mural project.

To accomplish all this, dedicated residents and 25 local organizations worked side by side, Hawkins says. “Our efforts have helped build community and inspire health in Franklin,” she says. “Residents and organizations continue to meet monthly, working together for a healthier Franklin, and new members are welcome to help!” 

“Health and a sense of belonging are connected, and they’re both important for a community to thrive.”

Laura Hawkins, project manager for Forward Franklin